It took only 27 million pounds or $44 million to give Britain’s ancient Stonehenge a makeover and the visitors to the site are in for a modern treat. The renovations include a new timber and glass visitor center building about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) from the stones where over 1 million a year visitors can watch an exhibition about Neolithic life.
Late last year, in December 2013, journalists and English Heritage members were given a preview of the new center, which houses a 360-degree “virtual tour” of the monument, along with an extensive exhibition about how Stonehenge is believed to have been built about 5,000 years ago. So, what should the tourists and visitors expect when they arrive this year to see the site? The idea has been to return Stonehenge which is located 80 miles (130 kilometers) southwest of London, to its rural landscape. Visitors should expect to be transported to the stones on a special shuttle, or they can walk, exploring an ancient processional approach route that for years has been cut in half by asphalt. Inside, the exhibition will show that the monument’s prehistoric creators were sophisticated people, who raised pigs and hunted, gathered from far and wide for feasts and built this remarkable, mysterious monument.
The renovations which were funded partly through donations and partly through a levy on profits of Britain’s national lottery, has also almost doubled the entry ticket, from 8 pounds ($13) to 14.90 pounds ($24) for an adult. However, the visitors beside watching the virtual tour, will see a modern cafeteria and a large gift shop, where visitors can buy many souvenirs including jam, chocolate, baseball caps, mouse pads and fridge magnets, as well as “Stonehenge Rocks” T-shirts as Associated Press reports. It is believed that Stonehenge was built in three phases between 3000 B.C. and 1600 B.C.
Archaeologists and experts now agree that the site was a temple and a giant burial ground for elite families. Archaeologists have found the remains of dozens of cremated bodies from about 3000 B.C. whose location was marked by bluestones. More evidence also suggests large crowds gathered at Stonehenge for the summer and winter solstices, a tradition that continues today. More research and exactions will be done in years to come as more than half the site remains unexcavated.
Dr. Dick Davis, a leading scholar of medieval Persian literature in the Western world, calls Hafez, the poetry world’s version of Bach and compares Shiraz, the city where Hafez lived at the time with Venice.
“People say that Bach sort of gathered together everything that had gone before him in music and brought it into a new kind of stage. Hafez did the same with the conventions of lyric poetry,” Davis said in an interview with PBS in December 2013.
Hafez is greatly featured in Davis’ new book (Published in 2013), “Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz.” Davis translated poems by Hafez, Jahan Malek Khatun and Obayd-e Zakani, all poets from 14th century Shiraz. Davis who is a poet himself, has translated other Persian poetry in the past. He went to Iran as a young man, ended up staying for eight years, married an Iranian and then returned to England and obtained a Ph.D. from University of Manchester, in order to bring pieces of Iran to the West.
In the interview Davis explains that “Faces of Love” shows a side of Iran that we don’t often hear about, especially from news headlines. For him, it’s an important side of Iran that he thinks more people should understand. After all, poetry is integral to Iranian culture.
Khwāja Shamsu d-Dīn Muhammad Hāfez-e Shīrāzī known by his pen name Hāfez (1325/26 C.E.–1389/1390 C.E.) was a Persian poet. The work of Hāfez would leave a mark on such Western writers as Thoreau, Goethe, and Ralph Waldo Emerson—the latter referring to him as “a poet’s poet.” His work was first translated into English in 1771 by William Jones.
Check out a video from Dr. Dick Davis here
Two years after cutting off financial contributions to UNESCO, the United States of America lost its voting rights late last year (2013). UNESCO has been greatly supported by the U.S. since its inception and many experts and diplomats believe that this latest development will greatly undermine America’s ability to exercise its influence in countries around the globe through the United Nations agency’s educational and aid programs.
Under UNESCO’s constitution, any country that fails to pay dues for two years loses its vote in the UNESCO general assembly. The United States ceased all support for the agency in 2011, in response to a vote at UNESCO giving Palestinians full membership, and it was the first time that the U.S. had voluntarily given up its vote in a UN organization. The U.S. Congress enacted laws in the 1990s decreeing that the United States stop providing money to any United Nations agency that accepts Palestinians as full members.
UNESCO has expressed regret over the outcome and stated that what has happened is not some kind of punishment on behalf of UNESCO for nonpayment, but the rules and the organization feel very sorry as it has lost it’s biggest contributor as well as miss the voice of the U.S. on issues like freedom of expression and girls’ education.
Late in 2013, during the UNESCO general conference in Paris, The American ambassador to UNESCO, David T. Killion, spoke about the recent developments and noted that the U.S. had been involved in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization since its beginnings in 1945 and promised that it would remain involved. He praised UNESCO for its role in consensus and peace building, saying the agency was important for American work abroad.
According to the reports, before withdrawing its financial support, the U.S. provided about $70 million, or 22 percent, of the agency’s annual budget, and the suspension was felt almost immediately. Some UNESCO staff members were laid off and programs and projects delayed, including some that potentially could have benefited the United States. In response, UNESCO created an emergency fund and got contributions from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Norway and other countries.